I really only get to play paper vintage at Gen Con and EW. Since Gen Con is a month away, I’ve worked to find a deck I like that I believe stands a decent shot at successfully competing in a large event. I agree that this vintage meta is terrible. I feel I’ve done my due diligence attempting to find a reasonable solution but I’ve failed. I do believe that there will be changes by EW to shake up this format. The last restrictions did not go as they predicted.
I was and still am in favor of Probe being restricted. For me, it’s not that it is an overpowered card, or even an unfun card. In my opinion, Probe is among the worst designed MTG cards. A big part of this game is the bluff. I have no issues with cards taking that away as a sacrifice to the caster. Not only did probe do this without sacrifice, but to a benefit of a storm/mentor trigger. The two life was almost always meaningless. I played it, but I’m glad I can only play one now. I want there to be some bluff component in the game.
The Gush restriction didn’t accomplish anything other than limiting deck choices. The problem is that some decks need multiples to work. I had a lot of fun with Cobra Gush. That’s no longer a viable deck. The issue with the restriction with intent to limit Mentor is that the Mentor deck does not need Gush. It works just fine without it.
That said, I am as not as opposed to restrictions as most people seem to be. The fact that people can still play with the cards in singleton is part of the appeal. I like the character. It’s great to draw the Ancestral Recall. The restriction makes it more meaningful in my mind. It also fosters deck diversity. If 4 Demonic Tutors were allowed, you would see very few vampirics, merchant scrolls, etc... I’m all for more restrictions to liven up the meta.
If nothing else, Mental Misstep needs to go. This card is the number one diversity killer. It diminishes discard, ramp, mana dorks, fast creatures, and utility creatures. If this goes, I expect that we will see more Tendrils, Doomsday, Welder, BUG, Infect (maybe), Fish, Dark Times, Tiny Robots, Painter, and whatever else I forgot about. It also will take some air out of Mentor if that card is still around.
Speaking of Mentor, it also has to go. It’s a well-designed card that was not designed with vintage in mind. When 75% of a deck causes triggers (with many of these spells at 0-1 mana), an otherwise great creature just become dumb. I’ve played Mentor plenty. It’s not really fun to win with it and it’s not fun at all to lose to it. “What did you kill me with?, oh yeah, you did 9 extra points of damage my playing Sapphire, Preordain, Misstep your own Preordain.” Who is excited there? The pilot is happy for the win but at what cost… That’s not magic.
Shops is always a big concern. I would be fine with Mishra's Workshop being banned in theory. I even own a play set so I’d take a big loss. The problem is that some shops players would just quit vintage all together. I accept that we’ll just ignore that broken card and look elsewhere. The go to choice is Thorn but honestly I’d rather see Sphere. While this won’t hurt Shops as much in principle, I believe that the lift creature decks get from mostly ignoring Thorn balances this out. I also think restricting Thorn hurts multiple decks while restricting Sphere mostly only affects Shops.
I would love to see some of the other restricted cards get a look but I don’t think that many realistic options will make much difference. Maybe Flash.
My hope is that the next announcement they add Sphere, Mentor and Misstep.